Perusing Facebook the other day, as I am wont to do, I came across a post for a Paleo diet plan. It showed the food triangle, but this time, grain was on the top, in the really small section (no wait, that's not even grain, just nuts and—I'm guessing—non-grain seeds). Big hunks of meat were on the bottom. The message was clear—a healthy life is supported by masses of meat. I'm assuming they were organic hunks of meat, otherwise, why bother at all.
I can't say that I agree with the message. I don't want to eat that much meat, for environmental, social, and economic reasons. Nevertheless, the need for change is clear; more and more studies are pointing out that the imbalance of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats in the North American diet are at the root of the degenerative diseases we fear the most: Alzheimer's, cancer, cardiovascular disease, even autoimmune disorders.
Based on the studies I'm reading, I sense the plan for most who share the concern is to supplement with Omega 3s, going the route of fish oils. But when the imbalance is a stunning 25:1 where it should be 1:1, supplementation won't get the job done. Lifestyle changes are required.
The first step is to make sure all meat, poultry, and dairy products are grass fed, free range, and organic. A supermarket egg from grain fed chickens has an Ω6:Ω3 ratio of 19:1, whereas a free range egg has a 1.3:1 ratio. One feeds into inflammation, the other does not. Meat and dairy have similar ratio benefits when moving from grain fed to grass fed. You'll get the shock of your life the first time you purchase organic butter, but you're going to pay now, or you'll pay later, but sooner or later—well, you know the drill.
The next step is to rigorously cut back on Omega 6 fats in prepared foods. Canola, soy, sunflower—basically, all the seed and nut oils. Avoid foods made with them, and certainly avoid the cancerous row of yellow oils in the supermarket. Polyunsaturated fats are light reactive, so if you can see the oil in the bottle, it's becoming carcinogenic right before your eyes. Use coconut oil or palm oil for your frying needs. If what you're doing would cause the coconut oil to smoke, you probably didn't want to eat it anyway. The only yellow oils to consume are camelina, chia, or flax, oils that contain a higher level of Omega 3 than 6, making them corrective for the imbalance. However, if the oil has a hint of bitterness, it has gone rancid, and must be tossed.